Car history check: Where can you get a free report?

We show you how to uncover the history of a car free, plus details of how to get background checks at a bargain price from major providers like HPI.

  • Find out where to get a free vehicle check
  • What will a vehicle check show?
  • Compare history check services

Knowing the history of a car you're interested in buying - and any potential secrets it may contain - is essential before you put down any cash.

A car history check allows your to find out a host of information about a car. Some checks are free but other more in depth searches may cost you. 

Your first port of call should be the DVLA. All you need to do is input a car's registration and the site will reveal the car tax and MoT status, when it was registered plus basic details like its engine size, colour and when it was built.

However, if you opt for a paid service you receive much more information. These include things like whether the car has any outstanding finance, if it's ever been scrapped or stolen plus details of its previous owners.

As with so many things, there's more to meets the eye. So while your dream car may look the part, it may be hiding a nasty surprise underneath, which only a detailed car history check can uncover.

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Where can I check a car's MoT check and mileage history free? 

You can't get a full car data history check for free in its entirety, but you can get a surprising amount of information on the background of a car for free - including its MoT history, mileage and whether it has road tax. To get all this information, you simply need to enter your registration number below.  

Check your car's MOT history

If you can get the registration number in advance, you can check online before you travel to see the car, saving a wasted trip. If the registration is covered up in photographs, contact the seller and ask for it. If they seem reluctant then this should set alarm bells ringing.

This basic check will give you information such as when the car was first registered. More usefully, it will tell you if the car is subject to a statutory off road notice (SORN), plus if it has a valid MoT and when it expires. Any car that is SORN'd should not be on the road as it may not have an MoT and it won’t be taxed.

What other car history check searches can I do free of charge?

If you have the time, you can also fill in a V888 request form and send it to the DVLA to find out information about the registered keeper of a car.

This will give you the registered keeper’s details and those of previous owners, which again helps you establish a fuller picture of the car’s background. You can also request information the DVLA may hold about you if you are about to sell a car and want a clean bill of health for any buyer carrying out these checks.

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Where can I get a car history check from?

There are many companies offering car history data checks and we’d recommend using one, even if a used car seller says this has already been carried out. Better to spend a few pounds and be safe than sorry. It's extremely easy to undertake a check online or via your phone. It's money you won't regret spending for that all-important peace of mind.

HPI Check Download (1)

HPI is the best-known vehicle history check company - so much so that "HPI check" has become the generic term for checking a car's background.

There are three levels of cover: basic, HPI Check and Multicheck. The basic service will tell you whether a car has finance outstanding, has been stolen, scrapped or written-off and has been exported or imported.

The full HPI check has a £30,000 guarantee and adds finance agreement details, mileage discrepancies, MoT history, write-off details, the number of previous owners, CO2 emissions, tax info, a stolen Logbook check, if it's recorded as scrapped, a market valuation, an indication of past and future values, and full number plate change history.

HPI offers a clone check on its full HPI check service, too.

How much does an HPI History Check cost?

There are two levels of pricing for an HPI car history check - £9.99 for the basic service and £19.99 for the full HPI check. 

As with other vehicle history check providers, there's a discount on offer for multiple checks. HPI charges £29.97 for three checks that can be redeemed within two years.


Single check cost

Multiple check cost

Basic HPI check*



Full HPI check*


£29.97 (for three)

AA History ChecksLogo -aa

The AA's History check is provided by HPI and includes a host of useful information like whether the vehicle is an insurance write-off, the number of previous owners and whether it's recorded as stolen. It also shows if it has outstanding finance or mileage discrepancies.

The service includes a logbook check, whether the car has been imported or exported, any number plate changes and whether the vehicle is recorded as scrap.

How much does an AA Car History Check cost?

Pricing for The AA's Car History check is very simple - it costs £14.99 for a single car. However, if you're looking at several cars before making an offer, there's a Multicheck multi-car option. For £29.99, you can have five checks, which works out at £6 per check.


Single check cost

Multiple check cost

The AA History Check*


£29.99 for five

RAC Vehicle History ChecksLogo (6)

A full RAC vehicle check gives you a complete history check of the car including 10 alerts covering outstanding finance, if it's been stolen, written off or scrapped, and any mileage discrepancies.

It also includes common breakdown reasons by make and model, common MoT failures, a vehicle valuation, average running costs and a guarantee of up to £30,000 to cover your car history check data.

How much does an RAC Vehicle History Check cost?

A basic RAC check is £9.99 while the full check, which includes everything listed above, is £14.99. Discounts are available if you're an RAC member.


Single check cost

Multiple check cost

Basic check



Full history check

£14.99 (£11.24 for RAC members)

Five checks for £29.97 (£22.48 for RAC members)

My Car Check  Mycarcheck (1)

My Car Check is a well-established car (and other vehicle) history check provider, operating since 2005.

It's one of the cheaper on the market, with a range of options, including a free check, a basic check for £3.99 and a comprehensive check for £9.99. Multicheck options are available too. The free check gives you just the vehicle details, its valuation, and MoT status and history, while the basic check will tell you if it's stolen, exported, a write-off, scrapped, plus the free check information.

How much does a My Car Check Car report cost?

There are three levels of pricing for My Car Check, including - unusually in this market - a free option. There are also three Multicheck comprehensive options, which are worth a look if you have a long shortlist - 5 checks cost £30 (£6 per check), 12 checks cost £50 (£4.17 per check), and 20 checks cost £75 (£3.75 per check).


Single check cost

Multiple check cost

Free history check



Basic history check



Comprehensive check


£30 (for five), £50 (for twelve), £75 (for twenty)

Car GuideCg .co .uk _blue

Car Guide says it aims to redefine car checks by 'focusing on the information that helps buyers save time and money', while also highlighting future risks.

Car Guide looks at any previous and upcoming services and repairs plus it offers ex-taxi and an unrecorded salvage check.

How much does a Car Guide report cost?

Car Guide’s buyers report costs £9.99 and includes the typical data you would expect, such as outstanding finance, if a car's been stolen, scrapped or written-off, as well as previous and upcoming services and repairs. Any additional reports then cost £5.99.

The second option is to buy 30-days access for £14.99, which includes two full buyers reports. It also allows you to add an unlimited number of vehicles to a shortlist and check information like if a car has been imported or exported, if it has any number plate or colour changes, and it sfull technical details, MoT history and more. Additional reports cost £4.99 with this option.

Instant Car Check History ChecksLogo -instantcarcheck

Instant Car Check is another provider that offers cheaper checks than the established market leaders. It's a partner company of HPI, and uses the latter's data for vehicle finance information.

How much does an Instant Car History Check cost?

The £2.95 basic check will confirm if the car has been written off, stolen, has outstanding finance, if it's been scrapped and any number plate changes.

The Gold Full check will determine the previous number of owners, MoT history, and if the VIN and chassis numbers match. You'll also get a clone check and valuation. An extra £4.99 will get an outstanding finance check, an extra £2.99 will show the mileage history to help you prevent buying a clocked car, and a further optional £2.99 check shows whether all safety recalls have been carried out.


Single check cost

Multiple check cost

Basic Check*



Gold Full Check*


£9.99 (for five) 

Rapid Car Check  LOGO3

Rapid Car Check admits it may not be the cheapest history check company around but says that its full 'deluxe' check is comprehensive and includes a stolen vehicle check, previously written off check, mileage discrepancies check, import/export check, colour change check and reg plate change check.

How much does a Rapid Car Check report cost?

There are three different options with Rapid Car Check including a free 'Initial' option. This checks the vehicle's details and the last three MoT reports, or essentially the information you can get from the DVLA.

A standard history check is £2.95 but does not include a valuation, finance check or £30,000 data guarantee. The deluxe history check covers everything and is £8.99.


Single check cost

Initial history check


Standard history check


Deluxe history check


Total Car Check History ChecksTotal Car Check Copy

Total Car Check History may not be the best-known of the vehicle history and data check companies, but it does claim to be the cheapest full check - both for individual checks and those done as a multiple. 

How much does a Total Car History Check cost?

The basic £3.99 Silver Check will confirm a handful of details, such as mileage and MoT history and whether the car has been written off, while the £8.99 full check will tell you if it has outstanding finance, if it's been scrapped or stolen, a VIN check, a valuation and a £30,000 guarantee.


Single check cost

Multiple check cost

Silver Basic Check*


£9.99 (for five)

Gold Full Check*


£14.99 (for three) or £19.99 (for five)

Why get a car history check?

At their most basic, a car history data check will tell you the make, model and confirm the registration belongs to a car of that description. That's all info you can get from the DVLA so it's not worth paying someone else for.

However, the advanced checks, which admittedly cost more money, are genuinely useful. These will tell you the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number), which is a much better way of identifying the car. The VIN is usually visible in the lower left corner of the windscreen on many modern cars, making it very difficult for thieves to change it and hide the true identity of a car.

As well as a the VIN number, a good car data check will tell you if the car is stolen, has been repaired following an accident or if there is outstanding finance still to be paid. Any markers in these areas and it's time to walk away.

Remember, if a seller owes money on a car to a finance company, the finance company legally owns the car and the seller does not have the right to sell it without settling the finance.

The problem is, if you've bought a car with outstanding finance, it will likely be repossessed, leaving you without a car and out of pocket by what could be tens of thousands of pounds if the seller does a runner.

Used car warranties: Your complete guide

What accident damage will a car history check highlight?

When it comes to repairs after accident damage, this is divided into four categories. 

  • A: Scrap
  • B: Break
  • S: Structurally damaged repairable (formerly Category C)
  • N: Non-structurally damaged repairable (formerly Category D)

A Category A car may not be repaired and must be scrapped in its entirety. A Category B car may have its usable parts recycled, but it also must be crushed. 

Category N means the car is a write-off that has not sustained any damage to its structure, so it may be repaired and safely returned to the road.

A Category S car has suffered structural damage, but is still deemed to be repairable.

Where can I get a valuation for my car?

If you're buying a car, you'll not only want to check out its background with a car history check, but also make sure that you're not paying over the odds. We offer a quick and easy valuation check service - simply enter the registration number of the car below to get yours.

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